The winter sturgeon season in this area was set for seven days a week from Jan. 1 through Jan. 19 in hopes of opening a summer sturgeon retention season in June, provided enough of the 1,100 fish annual guideline remains for an additional fishery at that time.
Managers expect anglers will harvest approximately 450-500 white sturgeon during the January fishing period, but admit catch rates can vary widely in this fishery. If catches are lower than expected, the winter fishery may be extended.
The season structure was based, in part, on support for a split season approach voiced by anglers during a public meeting in The Dalles on Nov. 26. At that meeting, anglers said they favored a 7-days-a-week winter fishing season and at least 2-3 days of summer fishing, when catch rates can be as high as 200 fish per day. Fishery managers will review harvest data on Jan. 14 to determine if the adopted winter season should be modified to balance the overall guideline between the winter and summer seasons.
Fishery managers also factored into their decision an expected 30 percent increase in angler effort above Bonneville Dam next year as anglers move upstream due to scheduled sturgeon season closures below the dam in 2014.
Retention sturgeon fisheries will open as planned in The Dalles and John Day pools on Jan. 1. Those fisheries will continue 7-days-a-week until harvest guidelines of 300 and 500 sturgeon, respectively, are achieved.
The bag limit in all three areas is one sturgeon per day and two for the year. Sturgeon must be between 38 and 54 inches fork length to be retained in Bonneville Pool and 43-54 inches upstream of The Dalles Dam.
WDFW: Sturgeon retention season approved for Bonneville Pool
Action: The recreational fishery in Bonneville Reservoir opens to white sturgeon retention 7 days per week.
Effective dates: Jan. 1 through Jan. 19, 2014
Species affected: White sturgeon
Location: The Columbia River and tributaries from Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam (Bonneville Reservoir).
Reason for action: Establishes the winter-period white sturgeon retention season in Bonneville Reservoir. Fishery managers determined that closing the fishery to sturgeon retention Jan. 20 will reserve enough fish for a summer retention season. This decision was made by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon at a joint public hearing Dec. 11.
Other information: The harvest will be monitored during the fishery, with a check-in planned for mid-January to consider whether modifications are necessary to balance the harvest between winter and summer seasons. Fishery managers will meet again in March or April to set dates for the summer retention season and consider a proposal to establish a May-July spawning sanctuary downstream of The Dalles Dam.
Catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon will still be allowed between Bonneville and The Dalles dams when retention is not allowed. The section of the Columbia River and tributaries between The Dalles and McNary dams opens to sturgeon retention Jan. 1 per permanent rules and will remain open until respective harvest guidelines for each reservoir are reached. The spawning sanctuaries from the Highway 395/I-82 Bridge upstream to McNary Dam and from the Rufus grain elevator upstream to John Day Dam will be closed to all sturgeon fishing May 1 through July 31.
Information contact: Dennis Gilliland, (360) 906-6733.
Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.